This morning, in the brief pause between the alarm going off and getting up we notice and comment on how quiet it is. There is no whirring, no shuddering, no growling of the generator or drill or water tank or whatever it is that we usually hear above our heads, or under the floor, or ricocheting around the walls. This morning there are no snores from sleeping machinery, there is no familiar insistent purr from some faraway cat.
Do you remember that when it’s this quiet in England it often means that it’s snowed? I ask.
We both know that it won’t have snowed on downtown Beirut, and if it has it won’t have settled into a soft blanket of silence over the noisy rooftops. But for a moment I picture it.
In fact, the day turns out to be even warmer than the one before and I have to shade my eyes from the sun as I wait to cross the crazy road. Ahead of me, there is the grand landmark of the mosque, it’s dome one hue bluer than the sky, and in front of it I notice the elegant point of a Christmas tree, a tall green cone, studded with silver globes. I wish I had a camera to capture it. One culture juxtaposed onto another.
No snow in Beirut this Christmas, but no shortage of symbolism.